Many ski resorts are closing their gondolas due to the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere. However, that does not mean that the mountain can no longer be enjoyed. There is a ski modality that does not need a ski lift. For ski and snow lovers it exists the uphill ski or skinning.
For snow lovers, the time has come to make the last run – if not already done, and save the ski or snowboard gear until next year. In this article, you can find some tips on how to take care of your ski equipment when the season is ending. In the ski areas of the northern hemisphere where there is still snow, skinning is a very fun and rewarding sport to practice.
What is uphill skiing or skinning?
Skinning requires good physical shape and dedication. This is because the first part of the uphill tour is done with the so-called “seal skins” that allow the skis to adhere to the snow and thus be able to walk through steep areas without falling back. Therefore, as we have already revealed, it consists of walking up the mountain with your skis on. Special bindings are also required to allow you to move your ankle when walking.
This activity began in the alps at the beginning of the 20th century during spring, when there was still snow and it was not possible to go hiking.
Why is it called “Skinning”?
It is so-called because in ancient times the Eskimos used the skins of seals to move from one place to another through the snow. This material allows you to slide through the snow in only one direction so that on the slopes they could go faster if they were downward, or have greater ease to advance if the slope was upward.
In the early days of this sport, the skins were attached to the skis using hooks, which should not be very efficient. Currently, synthetic leathers are used to imitate the originals and these are glued to the skis thanks to a glue that they have incorporated on one of the sides.
Differences with regular Ski
Although it may seem similar, this sport is very different from skiing. It is practiced in the mountains in areas that may not have been avalanche-insured and therefore it is also a risky sport. Although the weight of uphill skiing skis and boots is lighter, the fact of walking up the mountain carrying this material requires a physical preparation that not all people can have. Therefore, being fit is a very important requirement.
On the other hand, safety equipment must be carried. The basic emergency tools against avalanches are the shovel, the probe, and the ARVA.
As mentioned above, boots and skis are lighter, so the same ski equipment cannot be used for uphill skiing or skinning. The boots are more similar to mountaineering boots, however, the upper part of the boot is blocked to be able to ski, and that the foot remains fixed and attached to the ski.
The poles are not the same either, they are taller and lighter than those of the normal ski and they do not sink in soft snow.
Benefits of practicing uphill skiing or skinning.
- If you are fond of this sport, a good time of the year to practice it is in spring, when the gondolas close and the massive amounts of tourists on the mountain disappear.
- You have more peace in the mountain and you can use the ski slopes themselves to fulfill the activity.
- The sunlight in spring begins to last longer and you can climb the mountain until later and if the snow allows it, descend while watching the sunset.
- Practicing this sport notably improves physical condition. Specifically resistance and strength in the legs. Although, it is a fact that skinning provides a very complete exercise to the human body. Find more about the benefits of adult fitness here.
- If you have never tried it in Ratoong we encourage you to take a step forward and feel the power in your body when walking up the mountain.
Where do you like to go skinning the most? Let us know in the comments on our social media!
The Ratoong Team.